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Continuous Quality Improvement in Public Health

by Joe Aherne

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The latest consultation document for Ontario Public Health units of February 2017, highlights the need for an emphasis on Continuous Quality Improvement across all programs. The need for CQI is required in order to ensure Public Health Practice is transparent, responsive to current and emerging evidence and based on continuous quality improvement

While Continuous Quality Improvement has been used in many acute care health settings across Ontario for several years, its uptake and growth within Public Health has been slower. However, many Public Health units and practitioners are seeing the many benefits of going “Lean” and are training their staff to understand and use some key CQI practices in order to streamline services and find cost efficiencies while maintaining or expanding programs.

Public Health is faced with the challenge of needing to do more while resources are diminishing, so many have turned to CQI as a way to help drive performance excellence without the need to increase resources

Some of the ways CQI have assisted Public Health Units in Ontario are as follows.

  • Released capacity of Public Health Nurses by 21 hours per week by reducing non- value activities from their daily activities.
  • Improved vaccine inventory management to ensure wastage rates meet the performance indicator mandated by the Ministry of Health and Long- Term Care
  • Reduced error rate in the school suspension administrative processes by 25%
  • Increased ability to respond to surge capacity issues by level loading work across disciplines
  • Paper based application forms made electronic and available to the general public on-line to improve the customer experience
  • Reduced wait time for clients in clinics while increasing capacity to see more clients and reducing the amount of walking by clinical staff
  • Development of an efficient public health unit undergoing renovation by using Lean techniques to guide the architect team to design an operationally efficient building that was customer focused.

With the budget for Public Health services likely to remain static or diminished for the foreseeable future, many of the units in Ontario have recognized the need to ensure all their programs are efficient and effective, and that activities undertaken by staff in both Health Protection and Health Promotion are all value added. CQI is proving to be a popular methodology to ensure this outcome.

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Joe Aherne

CEO of Leading Edge Group

Joe qualified as a Certified Public Accountant in 1982. It was a decision that reaped great benefits for Joe, providing him with an international recognized qualification which allowed him to follow in his father and grandfathers’ footsteps who had both worked and lived abroad. Having qualified as a CPA, Joe took up financial positions in the Middle East and UK.

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